Blue Origin Unveils Blue Ring, Planet Gears Up to Launch Pelican, Starlink Ventures into IoT [+20 more news]
This week, we dive into Blue Origin’s Blue Ring — the latest space mobility platform unveiling, Planet’s upcoming launches, and Starlink’s venture into the IoT realm. Whether you’re a payload developer, investor, or launch service provider, we’ve got the insights you need. Dive in to discover the latest advancements, funding rounds, and more.
Image by Blue Origin: A Blue Ring rendering in space (image not to scale)
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European Spaceflight: Two payloads launched aboard Vega VV23 rideshare last week, the 🇪🇪 Estonian Student Satellite Foundation’s ESTcube-2 (plasma brake test) and 🇪🇸 INTA’s 3U ANSER-Leader cubesat (part of a trio monitoring Spanish water quality) likely failed to separate post-launch.
- 🇵🇱 SpaceForest’s second Perun rocket test faced an engine issue at 10 km altitude, prompting an abort. Perun is a single-stage 11.5 meters suborbital launch vehicle with payload capacity of up to 50 kg powered by a hybrid rocket engine. The maximum altitude the vehicle is capable of achieving is 150 km. [Spaceforest]
- 🇬🇧 Satvu’s thermal imaging satellite HOTSAT-1, the first satellite in the planned constellation, has provided its first imagery. The satellite’s capabilities offer improved resolution in space-based thermal observation. [SatNews]
- 🇨🇳 Changguang Satellite Technology (CGST) achieves high-speed laser image transmission (a communication bandwidth of 10Gbps) using its Jilin-1 MF02A04 remote sensing satellite. CGST, which has over 100 satellites in orbit, aims to increase its Jilin-1 constellation from 138 to 300 satellites by 2025. [SpaceNews]
- 🇺🇸 Astrobotic has completed Xodiac’s first commercial campaign. Xodiac, a Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) rocket (the asset came from Masten Space Systems), tested UCF’s Ejecta STORM plume-surface interaction sensor, a crucial component for lunar missions. [Astrobotic]
🇺🇸 Blue Origin has finally unveiled Blue Ring, an orbital maneuvering vehicle designed to provide in-space logistics and delivery from MEO to cislunar space and beyond. The Blue Ring will be capable of hosting over 3,000 kg of payload and will offer services such as refueling, data relay, and other logistics for payloads in space. [Blue Origin]
🇺🇸 Relativity Space signed a multi-launch Launch Services Agreement with Intelsat for Terran R. The Intelsat missions will be launched from Space Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral starting 2026. [Relativity Space]
🇮🇹 The Italian Space Agency (ASI) initiates the INNOVATOR cubesat gravitational and atmospheric science mission under its Alcor project. Collaborating with Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale, Thales Alenia Space Italia, and the University of Bologna’s CIRI-AERO, the mission will deploy two 6U CubeSats with InterSatellite Link payloads for precise measurements. The launch provider has not been announced yet. [European Spaceflight]
🇪🇸 PLD Space has partnered with WISeSat.Space to launch next-gen ultra-secure satellites under 500 Kg for Quantum-Ready IoT communications using the MIURA 5 orbital launcher. No more details on the launch has been disclosed. [WISeKey]
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🇨🇦 Spaceium and 🇲🇾 Aphelia are collaborating to introduce in-orbit wireless charging for spacecraft. [Payload]
🇮🇳 Dhruva Space reveals plans for a 26,000 sqm facility at Shamshabad. This hub will focus on satellite platforms, deployers, and ground station equipment. The first phase, covering 14,000 sqm, is set to be ready in 18-24 months. [Dhruva Space]
🇺🇸 SpaceX targets Starlink direct-to-cell text service by 2024 and IoT by 2025. [Via Satellite] 🇩🇰 Shipping behemoth Maersk will integrate Starlink internet across its fleet of over 330 container ships by early next year. [CNBC]
🇺🇸 Planet Labs gears up to launch Pelican-1, a tech demo satellite, and 36 SuperDoves on Falcon 9 next month. Pelican-1 previews the next-gen high-resolution fleet, leading to the future hyperspectral Tanager mission. While Pelican-1 tests new tech, SuperDoves boost daily global monitoring. The Pelican series aims to enhance Planet’s SkySat capabilities, offering faster data delivery, sharper resolution, and increased revisit rates. [Planet]
🇺🇸 Momentus has secured orbital delivery for q1 2024 contracts with 🇫🇷 RIDE! Space for 🇸🇳 Gaindesat (Senegal’s 1st satellite) and 🇩🇯Djibouti payloads, and with 🇵🇱 SatRev, set to fly the SOWA-1 nanosatellite.
🇮🇹 Argotec, a smallsat manufacturer, will establish a 1,860 sqm satellite manufacturing facility worth $25M in Largo, Maryland. The new site will focus on the Universal Space Transponder-Lite project in collaboration with 🇺🇸 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. [Argotec]
Bloomberg reveals 🇺🇸 Astra Space is considering strategic sales, including a 51% stake in its in-space propulsion business.
🇬🇧 UK’s Asteroid Mining Corp. unveils SCAR-E, a six-legged, 20-kg robot, designed for tasks like scaling walls and inspecting ship hulls, and also envisioned for lunar crater exploration and asteroid prospecting in the future. They aim to deploy SCAR-E for ISS and lunar tasks by 2026 or 2027. [SpaceNews]
Funding, Grants, and Contracts
🇺🇸 From Seraphim Space’s Q3 Generation Space Index report: Spacetech investments surge by 39% to $1.6bn from Q2 2023. Late-stage deals take the lead. Launch and smallsat sectors thrive in USA, UK, and China. [Generation Space]
🇺🇸 Space Capital unveils its Q3 2023 Space Investments Quarterly report, highlighting a surge in venture funding for the period. [Space Capital]
🇺🇸 Auriga Space, led by ex-SpinLaunch VP Winnie Lai, secures $5M for its ground-based electromagnetic launch system, aiming to replace first-stage rockets. Key investors include Trucks Venture Capital and Seraphim Space. The tech resembles high-speed maglev trains, propelling vehicles to high altitudes before second-stage engine ignition. [Auriga] [Payload]
🇺🇸 Cognitive Space announces a $4M Seed+ funding round, led by venture capital firms York IE, Draper Associates, and Dolby Family Ventures, to accelerate market strategy and enhance their AI-powered SaaS platform for satellite constellation management. [Cognitive Space]
🇺🇸 Proteus Space raised a seed funding round of $4.2M, led by Moonshots Capital. The Los Angeles-based startup aims to utilize artificial intelligence to develop customized satellites, offering a faster alternative to traditional satellite design processes. [SpaceNews]
🇪🇺 ESA has granted 🇬🇧 Skyrora, in collaboration with Viasat and CGI, a contract worth €300,000 to showcase a telemetry relay system in space. Edinburgh-based Skyrora will utilize its Skylark L launch vehicle, planned to be launched next year, for the telemetry system tests, addressing the issue of lost connections with Earth-based systems. [UK Tech]
🇺🇸 Evolution Space to develop solid rocket motors at NASA Stennis, will kick off the production by Q2 2024. The company also secured a bridge funding round of $1.2M to support its endeavors at Stennis while preparing for a separate Series A funding round. [SpaceNews]
🇺🇸 Urban Sky, a Denver-based startup, specializing in high-resolution imaging from small stratospheric balloons, raised $9.75M in a Series A funding round, led by New Legacy Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, and Lavrock Ventures. The “microballoons” imagery services provider, which offers a resolution of 10 centimeters, plans to develop even better resolution cameras. [Urban Sky]
New cohorts in accelerators
🇬🇧 Seraphim Space and 🇺🇸 Generation Space Accelerator have launched Mission 12 new cohort:
- 🇬🇧 Applied Atomics: A modular assembly spacecraft for on-orbit services.
- 🇬🇧 Aquascope: Advanced freshwater intelligence for climate and pollution forecasting.
- 🇬🇧 BioOrbit: Treatment development through large-scale protein crystallization.
- 🇬🇧 Optimal Cities: Digital platform using GeoAI and satellite intelligence for urban planning.
- 🇵🇱 Four Point: Uses geospatial data to reduce the environmental impact of opencast mines.
- 🇺🇸 SkyFi: A library of archival and on-demand satellite data through a user-friendly interface.
- 🇺🇸 FreeFall Aerospace: Disruptive antenna technology for space and ground applications.
- 🇮🇳 Astrogate Labs: High-speed communications for smallsats with a proprietary laser communication system.
- 🇸🇬 Kumi Analytics: A platform to scale voluntary carbon offsets using geospatial data and AI.
- 🇸🇬 Transitry: An AI and blockchain platform for transparent and traceable data to support credible climate impact claims. [Seraphim Space]
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